b. 22/04/1831 Brayford, Devon. d. 19/11/1877 Hove, Sussex.
Claud Thomas Bourchier (1831-1877) was born on 22nd April 1931 in Brayford, Devon. His father was Lieutenant James Claud Bourchier, who served in the Peninsular Wars in the 11th and 22nd Regiments of Light Dragoons, and his mother was Maria, 2nd daughter of George Caswall from Sacomb Park, Hertfordshire.
Claud followed his father into the Army when he obtained his first commission at the age of 18 in the Rifle Brigade. He served with the Rifle Brigade in the Caffre War of 1852-53 and also in the Crimean Campaign of 1854, including the Battles of Alma, Balaklava and Inkerman, being Aide de Camp to General Torrens at Inkerman, and at the Siege of Sebastopol. It was at Sebastopol on the 20th November 1854 that Claud Bourchier would perform the acts of gallantry which would result in the award of the Victoria Cross.
On that day, Lord Raglan had devised a plan to drive the Russians from some rifle pits in front of the left flank along some rising ground at Sebastopol. The duty of driving the Russians out was given to the 1st Battalion, and a party consisting of Lieutenant Henry Tryon in command, with Lieutenants Bourchier and Cuninghame, four sergeants and 200 rank and file, was detailed to carry out the plan. They marched down to the trenches where they lay down until darkness fell. They then advanced stealthily and advanced on the enemy, catching them by surprise. They quickly drove the Russians from their cover, though supported by a heavy column of Russian infantry. Soon, the Rifle Brigade came under heavy fire, and in the moment of taking the pits, Tryon was killed. Bourchier took over command and maintained the advantage, and they captured the pits. They also held the pits throughout the night despite repeated counter attacks. They did this until they were relieved by another battalion the following day. They lost 10 men including Lieutenant Tryon and had 17 wounded.
For his gallantry, Bourchier was given the brevet of Major. He also received the Crimean Medal with four clasps, made a Knight of Legion of Honour, received the 5th Order of the Medjidie, the Turkish Medal and was awarded the Victoria Cross (announced in the London Gazette on 24th February 1857). Bourchier was present at the first investiture on 26th June 1857 at Hyde Park, London and was personally presented with his medal by Queen Victoria. Soon, he was posted to the Indian Mutiny and served in the Campaign of 1857-59, including the Siege and Capture of Lucknow, Battle of Nawab-gunge, attack and capture of Fort Oomerea, for which he received the Indian Mutiny Medal and clasp. He also served on the Afghan Frontier, near Peshawar, during the disturbances among the native tribes in the winter of 1863.
Colonel Bourchier was then appointed Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria in April, 1869, having retired the same year on full pay. Bourchier retired soon afterwards and moved to the south coast. He died aged just 46 on Monday, 19th November 1877, at his home at 38, Brunswick Road. He was buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard in Buxton, Norfolk.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL GREEN JACKETS MUSEUM, WINCHESTER, HANTS.
BURIAL PLACE: ST ANDREWS CHURCHYARD, BUXTON, NORFOLK.
Claud Bourchier's medals including VC on display at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester (Aug 2012).
Rifle Brigade Roll of Fame Memorial,